Insights from the Girard School of Business
Accounting is a versatile field. No matter what happens in the economy, accountants remain in demand. Someone has to keep track of the money.
For the more ambitious professionals entering the accounting field, a master’s degree in accounting can open all the right doors. In addition to more traditional accounting skills, those with a master’s degree develop the skills needed to lead organizations on financial matters.
It’s a degree worth considering for those who want to separate from the pack in the profession and pursue the best careers in accounting. The opportunities are plentiful. The number of accounting jobs in the United States will increase 10% by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the mean annual salary is $77,920.
It gets better in Massachusetts, where the mean annual salary is $80,280 and the top 25% earn more than $93,600. As noted by the BLS, some employers “prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree.” California, Texas, and New York are also top employers in the accounting field and both NY and CT are in the top five states for median salary.
Where a Master’s Degree Can Take Your Accounting Career
Accounting is a complex field. This is especially true in the modern, global business world. Those who have earned a master’s degree are valued not only for their ability to handle tax laws, financial audits, and reporting but also for their planning and communication skills when working with high-level executives in mapping out business strategies.
Master’s level courses provide exposure to individual and entity taxation, contemporary issues in accounting, professional ethics, and insights into preparing corporate reports and analyzing financial statements. Master’s degree students also learn how to use the latest technology to collect, analyze and interpret data.
It’s a degree that prepares accountants to play a larger role in business strategy and leadership.
Examples of Careers in Accounting
Here’s a look at some of the careers in accounting that professionals with a master’s degree are especially qualified to fill.
Financial accountant is the position most people think of when it comes to accounting careers at larger companies. Financial accountants prepare financial reports, either for internal use or to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission if the company is public. All of this requires a solid understanding of accounting standards, tax law and government regulations. If the company is global, financial accountants may need to know the details of tax laws and regulatory standards in other countries.
Management accountants work directly with executives to develop business strategy. This position calls for a deep understanding of how a business operates. Data can play a big role in these positions in terms of developing possible outcomes based on choosing different financial options. In many cases, management accountants work as consultants who are brought in to help a company through a strategic move – into a new market, for example, or in developing strategy for selling a new line of products.
Wealth Manager and Valuation Specialist
Some accounting firms offer wealth management services for high net worth individuals. Accountants often work with these clients to help them on issues such as estate planning. Business valuation is an important part of merger and acquisition deals. In this case, accountants look closely at the books of potential partner companies, searching for both possible problems and opportunities.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Controller
The CFO position is typically the top finance job in a company. Many CFOs start out as accountants and having a solid foundation in accounting is beneficial to their roles as corporate leaders.
Those are some of the jobs that graduates from a master’s degree program in accounting are qualified to handle. For those with an aptitude for accounting and the ambition to go as far as they can in their career, it’s a degree that can offer a large return on investment.